Animal control budget a bear for commission
The Pocahontas County Commission is facing what nearly every governmental agency in the country has faced in the last yearﾗdeclining revenues and increasing public needs.
Commissioners passed the $5.8 million budget last Thursday. That budget includes $1200 annual raises for courthouse employees and more than $80,000 for animal control.
County commission president Martin Saffer found himself in the minority in keeping those raises to half that amount, but commissioners Reta Griffith and David Fleming said the county is in a position to reward its employees this year.
ﾓWeﾒre reaching a plateau for number of employees,ﾔ Griffith said. ﾓIf weﾒre going to talk about health insurance contributions, we need to get salaries up to the point they can afford to take part in PEIA.ﾔ
Saffer said employees are a big expenditure over time for the county.
Because of a change in the countyﾒs classification, commissioners and other elected officials are going to see growth in their own paychecks, as well.
But the animal control issue got the most discussion by far at the Thursday budget session, with assistant prosecuting attorney and Pocahontas County Humane Society Member J. L. Clifton and Allegheny Recreation Center owners J. P. Duncan and John Fitzgerald adding to the discussion.
Clifton told commissionerﾒs ﾓno dealﾔ when it came to the $50,000 the humane society was offered to contract with ARC. Duncan and Fitzgerald wanted $120 per day for a shelter keeper to maintain the animalsﾒtemporary home in the former Hanover Shoe building on Second Avenue in Marlinton. The humane society asked for $93,000 that would have seen about $74,400 go to ARC for personnel, shelter upkeep, utilities, food and litter.
As the volunteer organization tried to back up and punt on its budget, Clifton said it offered $2990 a month to ARC for personnel, upkeep and utilities and the humane society would take care of everything else.
Again, ARC said no, he told the commission.
ﾓWeﾒre not in a position to accept when theyﾒre not in a position to accept,ﾔClifton told commissioners.
Clifton said the humane society and ARC had to produce annual budgets with only two months of data to rely upon.
ﾓWe bid for full capacity,ﾔ Duncan said. ﾓThe money we [contracted for] is helping ARC all around.ﾔ
ARC has offered the larger part of its building to the humane society for its fundraising efforts, Duncan continued.
Commissioners finally budgeted $80,250 for the ﾓanimal shelter,ﾔ so that the humane society, which meets April 1, can work on a contract with ARC. Of that figure, the humane society can contract up to $74,400 with ARC. The remaining $5850 is to be used for veterinary bills and wormers.
The humane society, which received a $5,000 county commission contribution for spay and neuter clinics last year, will seek that same amount this year, Clifton said.
Should the two groups be unable to agree on a contract rate, commissioners may end up letting the animal shelter contract out on bid.
The humane society is working on its own shelter near Huntersville.
Pocahontas County Sheriff David Jonese said his budget saves the county $37,000 ﾓoff the top,ﾔ in spite of the fact that Jonese is hiring two new deputies. The offset comes because Jonese plans to deputize his entire force. The sheriff said he eliminated transport officer and home confinement officer positions so that his total law enforcement personnel budget is reduced by one position.
The countyﾒs budget, at $5.8 million, is about $1 million less than last yearﾒs budget and includes a one percent increase in property taxes. Collections should remain neutral, Griffith said. The county can expect $620,000 in Payment in Lieu of Taxes for federally owned lands in June. PILT is fully-funded for the next few years.